The Supreme Court has refused to provide an extra chance to appear for the Civil Services Examination in 2021 to candidates barred by age or number of attempts from taking it, after some of them approached the apex court citing difficulties in preparation that affected their performance in the October 2020 exam.
The court did not see merit in the grounds on which the candidates were seeking an extra chance, and was also worried about this setting the wrong kind of precedent.
In a February 5 hearing, the government offered candidates who have exhausted their chances an extra one, as a concession, but the court advised it against this, although it said the government is free to exercise its discretion in addressing the grievances of the petitioners.
In its 40-page judgment, the court said the pattern of CSE has remained unchanged since 2015; the candidates got an additional five months to prepare considering that the examination was originally to be held in May 2020; and those petitioning the court chose not to exercise the option to withdraw from the examination despite the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), which conducts it, opening a second window for withdrawal between August 1-8, 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The petitioners were mentally prepared to give the examination, the bench noted.
Refusing to view the case of the petitioners in isolation, the court found merit in the argument of the Centre that any concession to this batch of petitioners will not be fair to the others. All of them, “irrespective of the nature of attempt (first or second, etc) who appeared in the 2020 Examination must have faced the same consequences as being faced by the writ petitioners… the reasoning would equally apply to those who have crossed the upper age barrier”, reasoned justice Rastogi, who authored the judgment.